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Difference Between Average And Advanced Players in Their Thinking while Play

The Play

Your judgment is clear. Instead of folding as you had more or less expected to do at the starting of a reading poker hands, you would now raise. By raising the last position bettor you are able to face the players between him and you with having to call two bets cold to stay in the hand. From there on the hand may develop in number of ways but often from that point through fourth street your hand plays automatically. With something or the other your hand will knock the other players out of the game.

Your typical play, if you are called on the flop (only by the button), is to bet again on fourth street. If otherwise you are re-raised on the flop the pot will be big enough to fold on the turn unless you improve. If someone makes it three bets, reaching beyond the turn without any improvement would be ridiculous unless you have an excellent read to the contrary, or the raiser is a fanatic. In fact, this is true if the re-raiser is one of the players between you and the initial bettor.

The trickier thing comes at the river. Let's say it is now heads-up between you and the button, and the last card seems unlikely to have helped his hand. You should decide whether to bet or to check and call. (Given the rivals mentioned, it is obvious enough that your hand is worth a call if you check and he bets. Of course, in reality you have to consider each and every situation individually.) You should ask yourself at the minimum what range of hands your rival will call (or raise) with if you bet and with what hands he will bet if you check. You then bet or check and call depending which play would give you the highest proportion of wins over the long period of time.

This topic is complicated one which I will leave to the intellectual and serious readers to study in some depth in David Skylansky's The Theory of Poker. As a quick rule of thumb, lean toward betting if as with playing many hands than he would bet if you were more hands than he would bet if you were to check. Be prepared to check and call if - as with some more aggressive or bluff-prone players he will bet with more hands than he would call with. (You can even check if you think that he may bluff-raise.)
Observe that had the flop come

Your approach would be little different. You may now give more thoughts to betting out on the flop, as you cannot easily be called by overcards. In most of the games, it is also now less possible that anyone holds high pair.

The Concepts

The main part of this play is having a late position bettor who will bet all kinds of hands less than high pair. Observe that even if he has the same pair you do, but with the better kicker, he can fold (perhaps on fourth street) in respect to the strength you have shown with your check-raise. It is your check-raise which gives you the power to knock out the other players. Many logical players will fold for two bets with anything less than high pair with a good kicker or a solid draw. Better players will often fold high pair. You can sometimes run into a good hand and have to fold. But if you fail to make this play poker you are losing some of your profit.

It is vital to understand that while the power of the check-raise in making out potentially better hands may be remarkable, this play's beauty is really the recognition that your hand has greater value, respect to other hands in play, than you could have thought before. For less than the expert player, if this recognition comes at all, it will often be in the form of a sudden realization during the hand. You can have such realizations if you develop the flexibly fast thinking described at the beginning of this topic. It starts with your study of poker theory and thinking about hands away from the table. Additionally, try to focus intensely on the activeness of hands as they play out, working hard to identify the most significant variables of play, and to apply theory to the real life and other situation you observe.

Again, with experience and study, this and other situation will become acquainted to you. You will expect them before they arise. Yet, no matter how much you commit to memory, the ability to make swift transfer in your thinking, remaining open to the possibility of changes in respect to hand strength is a precious skill to develop as you progress in poker. It will allow you to focus additional, less often occurring, conceal opportunities for profit as you play. It is therefore one of the indicator of the expert.

Conclusion and Warning

Consider the example I have given, not as a trick to add to your knowledge, but as it explains the relevance of being conscious of the relative nature of hand values. Also consider the value of being ready to adjust your thinking about a hand as the unfolding action gives you with new information. You can apply this play to develop further thinking about positional strategies. Then you will move beyond playing by rote, into applying a clear understanding of poker to your everyday play.

Remember that this kind of play requires good judgment. As I said, an awareness of the utility of this strategy could be dangerous for the player lacking such judgment, or sufficient discipline. There are many semi-skilled, losing players who know this and all other kinds of identical plays. Main reason they lose is because they apply them consistently and subjectively. They usually play rapidly. Do not always try for this every time when you have a pair in an early position and the last person bets. Sometimes even the excellent player misread this situation. When they do they run into big hands or get caught for a couple of bets more than they should. Conversely, their skill and judgment allows them to stay out of trouble and lose less than others would when they think wrong. Hence make this play only when it is clear that the situations are correct. Unsystematic applications of ideas like this one will prove expensive. Discreet and selective application, on the contrary, can be advantageous way of not folding your poker hand.

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